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The oK story from beginning to now. Subscribe to follow along, get news, and receive exclusive invites as we grow.

🧊 I took my shirt off and ran down the concrete ramp into the icy water, high-stepping through the pain and willing myself to dive under the surface. 🧊

🐧 Why? Because the Penguin Plunge is an annual tradition in Burlington, Vermont. Each February, hundreds of people jump into frozen Lake Champlain. But I didn’t do it because it’s a tradition - I’m not one to do things just 'cus others do. 🐧

🥶 So why did I choose to spend a Saturday risking hypothermia? 🥶

💡 Because of a presentation I did about oK that Spring. Because Jasmine Lamb saw it and asked me to start an oK group at Mansfield Hall. Because I took her up on it and began running weekly meetings. Because the Penguin Plunge benefits Special Olympics Vermont and the few folks that showed up each week were all passionate about supporting the organization. Because I believed in the power of broadening our ideas of what is possible for ourselves. Because I believed in the uniting power of shared purpose and challenge. 💡

💪 The fall of 2014 leading up to the Penguin Plunge was all about challenge. 💪 With the help of Harmony Hansen, I started collecting stories of personal challenges people faced and she illustrated them: I challenged myself personally to do more in a single day than I could imagine doing now as a tired 31-year-old - likely fueled by Eric Wahlgren-Sauro's endless energy that rubbed off on me that summer of living together. I produced an interview series called The Questions for local TV: I wrote public journal entries on Facebook, documenting the serendipity I swam through as I immersed myself in my community. One of the more memorable days ended with a cop taking my phone during a traffic stop as I recorded myself rapping a verse I wrote in response to the police murdering Michael Brown that summer:

By increasing the challenge level I experienced on a daily basis and by taking on challenges outside of my comfort zone, I got out of my head more and didn’t linger in my anxiety and negative thoughts. After all, there’s nothing like plunging headfirst into a freezing lake to make you present and nothing like doing it in the service of others to make you follow through.

I had a full video of me running into the lake at some point but I can’t find it now. You can see me briefly, holding a green shirt, at 5:08 in this fantastic video about the 2015 Penguin Plunge:

In the Spring of 2014, after a year of tinkering with oK in the safety of my friend group, I took the leap and publicly shared my work with the Burlington, Vermont community. 🥳 But before I tell you about the opportunities this gave life to in the Fall, let me tell you about the most epic Summer ever.

Eric, my co-presenter, fellow entrepreneur, and oK practitioner, moved into my apartment for the summer. At the time, I was living with my aunt. I had two rooms in her house and Eric took one. You might imagine we’d have raucously good time living across the hall from each other, but my aunt had strict house rules and so did I.

We were to be quiet, keep the kitchen immaculate, and ideally not have more than one guest over at a time. Not exactly the dream setup for college kids but I loved it because it was the perfect environment for my monastic lifestyle at the time. Eric sought the same rigor and enthusiastically joined in. Thus, the best summer ever began.

🌞 We woke up at the same time each day 6:30am. 🧘 We would meditate for 20 minutes, morning and evening. 🏋️ We stretched and worked out in our rooms. 🧗 We rock climbed at least 3 times a week, often walking or biking the 2 miles to the gym. 🥗 We ate simple, healthy, home cooked food - even making our own post-workout protein balls. 🤝 Together we created and co-facilitated an in depth, 8 hour workshop focused on Flow. ✍️ We journaled and set intentions every night. 🎤 In our downtime, we walked, hiked, learned, and did creative work like our cringy YouTube series “Bus Stop Beat Box” where we freestyled at bus stops around town as our friend Wes beatboxed - no I'm not posting a link. 🙈

I talked to Eric recently about this summer and he said it was like he was “flying”. He had an uninteresting internship but floated through it, operating on a completely different level then those around him.

I can’t say I felt the same way. 😔 At times I was flying along side him but often I was stuck in jealousy, insecurity, and resentment.

I wasn’t ready for a collaborator. I had been working on oK for just over a year and I didn’t feel ready to share control with someone else. I regretted giving up my extra room where I made music, did yoga and meditated. Most of all, I felt like he was better at all of it then me - he was a better climber, a better meditator, and so on.

I nitpicked and found things wrong with what he was doing and pushed him even as I fell short myself and found ways to cheat at my own rules.

So while Eric was flying, I was climbing slowly below him, admiring his ability to do the work, stay focused, and stay confident. He had wanted to live with me to adopt my lifestyle, learn from me - and mostly have a cheap place to stay. I wasn’t clear on what I wanted from the start and my lack of intentions led me to struggle.

Still, struggle begets learning too, and I now understood I had work to do that couldn’t be accomplished with a daily routine: I had to learn to let go of my ego, be patient with others and myself, and genuinely be of service rather than act like I was.

That Fall, I had an opportunity to join a new community and continue practicing what Eric had started to teach me.

🤑 Not everyone has $5,000 to spend on an 8-week course. That's how much it costs to attend "Zero to Dangerous", The Flow Research Collective’s primary offering, which clearly isn’t for everyone. But if you wanted a deep dive into Flow and had the means, that’s what I’d recommend. If you want to learn more about Flow right now, here’s what an AI has to say about it and here’s my story about Ninjas and addiction.

Courses like this didn’t exist back in 2014 when I wanted to change the world through Flow education but I wouldn’t have and couldn’t have created something similar. I definitely wasn’t qualified, but most of all, I wanted to create something that was accessible.

This meant searching for the essence of Flow and finding away to share it with people for free. 🌊

I came up with three things that could increase the amount of Flow people experienced in their lives no matter their circumstances. I called them the ABCs:




Well, that was one version. I came up with a lot. The concept of the ABCs was fun but never fully distilled what I was doing. It was a combination of principles and practices. The principles were:

Accept Reality: accept yourself, accept others, and accept that we are all one.

Believe in Change: believe you can change, believe others can change, and believe we can change the world.

Continue: meaningful change comes through practice.

I had been bringing people together for a year now to navigate life together. I started framing this time together as Practice and experimented with versions of the following format:

Action - We started each Practice with a simple physical activity like jumping jacks or all yelling "oK!" in unison.

Being - This was followed by quiet meditation.

Creation - Finally we created something: a purpose statement, goals, or a written reflection.

As you can see, our ABCs have gotten confusing. 😵‍💫 I’ve since realized little formulas like this usually fall short. Complexity cannot easily be captured in the constraints of language. I spent a lot of my 20s trying to force things into neat boxes and made them more confusing in the process.

It wasn’t a waste of time though. I had created a free way for people to get together once a week, for an hour, to make small changes to their lives that could provide immediate results and long-term, sustainable change. After three weeks of ABC Practice, the foundation for Flow was set.

At its core, Flow is about being present and fully experiencing all the moment has to offer. By moving and breathing we heighten our awareness of our physical reality. By reflecting, we process the past and linger on it less. By setting goals that align with a larger purpose, we worry about the future less.

This was the ABC Practice. And by practicing with a community, we built relationships in the process and experienced collective Flow. 🫧

At least, that was the theory. I was making it up as I went, terrified to have people looking to me to lead such a thing when really I just wanted to be a participant. The ABCs would have died - and oK along with them - had it not been for the support of my friends gently supporting me. Especially at this time, the support of Eric, who encouraged me and became a collaborator as we sought to bring the ABCs to more people. And a presentation we did together to the Burlington community would begin a new chapter in the fall of 2014.

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